I love the Facebook memories feature. Especially around holidays, it’s lovely to be able to see what was happening in my life years past.

Facebook reminded me this morning that 5 years ago, Mark and I were spending Thanksgiving in Myrtle Beach visiting my parents. Oh, how I long to be back there! The warmer weather, the ocean and the palm trees. I love fall, and Thanksgiving has to be tied with Christmas as my favourite holiday. Being home this Thanksgiving weekend is great – milder weather, changing leaves on the trees, and special time with family. We were supposed to camp this weekend, something I was incredibly excited about because I’ve always wanted to go camping in October and be in the middle of nature changing seasons, but Mark’s truck broke down a couple of weeks leaving us with nothing to tow our trailer. Enjoying fall from the comfort of home isn’t bad though.

Facebook memories also reminded me this morning that 5 years ago this Thanksgiving weekend, we announced to my parents that we were planning to adopt. My parents took lovely photos of us while we were in Myrtle Beach so we could share the news with others. Incredible to think that was 5 years ago, although plans changed slightly with getting pregnant with A.J. almost 2 years later.

Last night at a family Thanksgiving dinner, A.J. exclaimed “I promise, I want a baby brother! I want a baby brother!” It simultaneously melted and broke my heart. Even though she doesn’t fully understand what it means, she and I have had conversations about whether or not she would like a baby brother or baby sister. I think as she gets older and sees other children with siblings, she’s starting to grasp what all that means.

Like 5 years ago, this Thanksgiving our hearts long for our family to grow. But in the midst, I am thankful for:

  • My precious family and extended families.
  • Our home, for the warmth and comfort it provides – from the elements and also as a safe refuge for our family to bond and connect.
  • A job that allows me to use my passions, interests, skills and talents to make an impact in our world.
  • Access to books of all kinds so that even from the comfort of my home, I am transported to different times, places and worlds. And am exposed to various issues, mindsets, and perspectives.
  • Grace.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thankful also for parents who are photographers!


Today, my husband and I celebrate 7 years of marriage! I truly love doing life with him.

Within a year of getting married, we decided that we wanted to grow our family. It’s hard to believe that that was 6 years ago! Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reflecting a lot on expectations – personal expectations I’ve had for myself that haven’t been fully realized and coping with the failure the reality of that. I turn 30 this December, and I fully expected that we would be nearly done growing our family by now, at the very least be finished having biological children before we focused on growing our family through adoption. After finishing my Masters last year, it was our hope that we would have another biological child before I turned 30. As the necessary conception month for that came and passed, I consoled myself by thinking “well, that’s ok. As long as I’m pregnant by the time I turn 30, that’s ok.” December is quickly approaching, and I’ve been reflecting on how and why people find meaning in expectations in connection with age. Why is it that we have certain expectations (personally and imposed by societal norms) of completing school, getting married, starting a family, retiring, etc. at or before a certain age?

With infertility, it’s hard.  There’s so much hope and waiting (and hope in waiting). Every season, holiday and anniversary that approaches, I’m left thinking by Christmas, maybe we will be able to announce a pregnancy. Maybe I’ll be pregnant over the warm months of summer? How do I plan my life and schedule around hopeful anticipation? How many years will A.J. and her sibling be apart?  Each birthday, holiday and anniversary is a milestone complete with memories of what we have enjoyed and endured. It’s also a time of checking off another year with some unfulfiled hopes and plans for our family.

There is obviously nothing wrong with growing your family in your thirties or later, but infertility already leaves me feeling so disempowered and out of control, that I wrestle with also having to come to terms with my personal expectations that have not come to fruition within my desired timeline.

I woke up this morning happy to be beside the man I married 7 years ago. I look back at what we have been through over that time: academic pursuits and professional development, loss of close family members, hard work, fun play, changing jobs and career paths, and welcoming our daughter who is the light of our lives.

As we long for our family to grow, I try to focus less on expectations (which, to me, feels like a checklist of goals) and more on hope.


As I think back to our wedding day, I’m trying to remember everything that was going through my mind on that day (it’s difficult as our wedding day – like many – is just a whirlwind of fleeting memories), in particular the hope and expectations we had for our lives as we started our newly joined family as husband and wife. Our wedding vows are on the wall in our family room, and I returned to them to see what expectations we had for ourselves and each other:

I, Jennifer, take you, Mark, to be my husband and in doing so, commit my life to you, encompassing all joys and sorrow, all hardships and triumphs, and all experiences of life. 

I promise you my faithful and enduring love and devotion, to be expressed to you each day and in all situations. 

I promise to share my thoughts and feelings with you, and to be honest and truthful. 

I promise to encourage you in abundance and in need. 

I promise to honour you, create a loving home for you, and to be true to you until death alone shall part us. 

I vow this as a covenant made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope, and daily made new. 

And through these vows, lived daily, we do life together and hope for our family. (Happy anniversary, Mark! I can’t imagine life without you!)

(I’m not crying! YOU’RE crying!)

Be strong and courageous


A.J. is one of the most independent toddlers I’ve met.  But sadly she has adopted her fierce impatience from me… Lately, she has been crying out “I can’t do it!” when she gets just too overwhelmed with the task at hand. I encourage her as much as I can, and I pray as she goes through life crying “I can’t do it” at moments and situations where she feels down about herself, she is surrounded by others who will empower and encourage her.

During August, I have been writing blog posts for The Twelve on Sundays, and I consider this week’s writing sort of a “Dear A.J.” post (in a series where I document memories and thoughts about A.J.’s life).

You can read more here.

Asserting myself through infertility

I hate confrontation… I hate conflict. And I have been trying to work at becoming more assertive and confident in loving and compassionate ways. I have come to realize that I do not always assert myself in situations where I should because I am nervous about hurting other peoples’ feelings in the process of asserting my own. (Side note: I love reading, so if you have any books that you think I would like, tell me!)

It is not news that conceiving is hard for me and my husband. So far, our infertility is unexplained (we have had a few tests to be able to rule out some things, but nothing has become clear about why it has been difficult for us to conceive). In the three years we waited to have a child (before A.J.), it was difficult for me to overhear complaints about other peoples’ pregnancies or children. In my own longing for children, I became bitter overhearing others complain about things like tiredness or morning sickness; when I suffered from both while pregnant with A.J., I had a greater appreciation for expecting mothers needing to share their experiences with others, both positive and difficult. (I wrote a little about this here). As I long for another child, I try to remind myself of this as I feel the creeping of bitterness overcome me again. I have been working to find ways to be joyful in others’ growing families while also preserving myself and mental well-being. One of these ways was to remove myself from some social media platforms where I found I was becoming discouraged when I came across peoples’ complaints of weight gain, tiredness, sickness, or something else that they were entirely allowed to feel, but in the process triggered me into a spiral of sadness and self pity.

This past weekend, we were watching the Olympics with my parents. With the exception of A.J., everyone in the room suffers from their own personal physical affliction(s) – bad knees, hips,shoulders and backs all around. Watching a gymnastics event, we all watched in awe, exclaiming that it pained us just to watch these women run, fling themselves over a vault, twirl through the air, and land (or not land…). Watching others in their physical prime reminded us of our own incapacities. We were in awe of these athletes and their talents, skills and abilities while also very aware of our own shortcomings.

I feel similar when I hear and see pregnancy announcements. Especially being fortunate to already be a mom myself and knowing the happiness A.J. brings to our entire family, I feel joy for someone else when they announce that their family is growing. But lately I have heard and read many exclaim excitedly that getting pregnant happened on their first try, or very easily, or perhaps was a joyful “surprise”. I can’t help but admit that hearing of other peoples’ fertility only makes me so much more aware of my own broken body and infertility. 

I have written before about finding strength through my faith and through the Bible. On Pinterest, I came across a printable which really resonated with feelings I have been having about my body and how it is failing me in our desire to have another baby. I have been reflecting on all that I experienced while waiting for A.J. – experiences and jobs I wouldn’t have had if we had gotten pregnant right away.  And I take comfort in knowing that God has stuff in store for me as I await another child. I have taken the verse and created a cover picture for Facebook for anyone else who would like to use it.


In reflecting on how I assert myself and communicate, I have realized (read: am realizing this only as I am writing this post) that I have hesitated to share too much of my own longing for another child, the difficulties of infertility, and my feelings about it all. I think that I resist being too vulnerable in fear of making others feel uncomfortable. (Even as I write this post, I second guess actually publishing it). But this is my journey, my reality. I’ve shared before that I enjoy writing to process my feelings. As many of my friends and family who have read my (very) sporadic postings can attest, I cannot promise to write faithfully. But I was invited this month to be a guest poster on The Twelve for the four Sundays of August, and I have come to appreciate the discipline of making myself sit down, reflect and write as a practice. So perhaps I will try to be more disciplined at writing here. And maybe this will be a place where others who are feeling vulnerable about their journeys can feel less lonely.

A new room for A.J.

Today, A.J. officially moved into her new bedroom.

It was so bittersweet.


When we first moved in almost two years ago, we were torn between putting her into the smaller room across the hall from our master bedroom, or the much larger room at the end of the hall – the best room on the second floor, and arguably the best room in the whole house as it’s very bright with three windows and a nice view (the fluorescent pink on the walls might also contribute to the brightness…).  A.J. was only 9 months old when we moved in, so the room across the hall was better for any middle of the night wake ups. The plan was for her to graduate into the larger pink room when we were to get pregnant again, keeping the smaller blue room as a nursery.

We’ve been waiting and so hoping for a reason to move A.J. into the larger, nicer room. And unfortunately we have not had a reason to kick her out of the nursery yet. We contemplated keeping her in her existing room for as long as it takes for us to get pregnant again (down the hall seems so far from us when there’s a closer room!), but it seemed like such a shame to waste the brightest room upstairs! So, with excitement and some sadness, I tackled the “pink room.” It has acted as a “guest bedroom” over the last two years. And by “guest bedroom,” I mean it had a double bed in there until A.J. started using just the mattress a couple months ago, and we left the frame and box spring sitting in the corner utterly surrounded by piles of storage and boxes… I really wish I had taken a “before” picture before organizing the room, because I could hardly walk around in it…

Part of cleaning out the larger room was going through all of the baby stuff that A.J. no longer uses – bins and bins full of clothes, soothers, smaller cloth diapers as well as her old crib, bathtub, toys, a swing, etc. Oh the feelings, of having to go through that stuff… For the last two years, I have been putting this stuff away in the “pink room” with bittersweet feelings – knowing that A.J. was growing big and strong, and excitement that one day I would get to go through everything again when we were ready to use the nursery for a new baby.  To have to go through all this stuff just for the sake of cleaning and organizing- not because there is a need to pull everything out, launder it, organize it – it was hard.

While organizing, I came across this door hanger that I made while we were waiting to get matched (when we were going through the adoption process, before we were surprised with A.J.). For the second time, I placed this door hanger on the door knob and wondered what the future of our family will look like. For now, the nursery contains stuff that we will hopefully be able to use again. We’ll likely keep the door closed – it’s hard to see the piles of stuff.  Plus, we also have a cat so the less vacuuming I have to do, the better. And there are quite a few annoying baby toys in there that A.J. would love to get her hands on again!


But cleaning and organizing had it’s sweet times too. I came across some boxes of things I had put away until A.J. got a little bit older, like some porcelain dolls that were mine when I was a young girl. A.J. loved seeing them and constantly asks to hold them; it was an odd feeling to see her playing with things that I was fond of when I was young. There were also tons of books that I had purchased while we were in the “waiting” phase during our pre-A.J. life, so now her book collection has almost doubled!


As emotional (and a little teary) as the last couple of days have been, I’m glad I managed to push through. A.J. loves her new room. And it sure does feel great not to have such a cluttered and junk-filled room!



Those windows though!!!

You are getting so big…

Dear A.J.

Tonight when I put you to bed, I held back tears. It was your first night in your “big girl bed” (a double mattress on the floor). You are getting so big.

Earlier today when I was getting you out of your carseat, you said to me “I want you to be my friend, mommy” and it melted my heart. You are getting so big.

When we got home and moved the mattress into your room, your (insistent) response to me laying on your new bed was “no mommy, don’t lie on my bed.”  You are getting so big.

But tonight when I tucked you into your new bed and went to leave, you kept insisting “lie down with me mommy.” And I couldn’t resist. I often still “rock you like a baby” (usually at your request). When I do this, I ask you “are you mommy’s baby?” And you typically respond with “I’m your baby and your big girl.” Tonight, tucking your small body into such a big bed, you were definitely my baby and my big girl. You are getting so big.

I had to take this picture when you threw your arms out to hug us both saying “I love you guys!!! This is the best day ever!” You usually proclaim every day is the best day ever, and I absolutely love this joy about you.

 ***please excuse the poor quality phone pictures!


Growing up, Halloween was never a big thing in my family. We never felt like we missed out though – the holiday was usually spent in Niagara Falls or Myrtle Beach or Florida where we also celebrated my parents’ wedding anniversary (on the 24th!). (And we typically traveled with a lot of candy and chocolate, so we never missed out on that aspect of the holiday!) Being homeschooled for most of my elementary and secondary school years, October holidays always felt exciting because attractions were less crowded and it was exciting to know that while others were stuck in school, we were away having fun!

Once Mark and I got married, we lived on the outskirts of the city (think more country, less city, but not super secluded) on a busier road. We lived across from a housing subdivision, but we never got any trick or treaters. I love holidays, but Halloween has never really been on my holiday radar.

We moved just before Halloween last year, but A.J. was only about 10 months old, and we weren’t sure how popular trick or treating was in our small rural community. It turns out, there were more young families that we were aware of, and there were more trick or treaters than we had thought there would be. So this year, we were excited to get A.J. dressed up and go trick or treating!

mommy and ajI’ve never really understood all hype around Halloween (well, except the chocolate. I love any reason to gather and eat loads of chocolate). But now I have a brand new appreciation for the holiday. Being in a more rural community, it’s been difficult to find opportunities to meet our neighbours. When we first moved in, we walked up long driveways to meet our immediate neighbours, but that took us to the extent of our comfort zone. So trick or treating allowed us to use our daughter as an excuse to unabashedly knock on our neighbours’ doors and introduce ourselves!

The sense of community I felt last night – it felt great! I have a feeling that next year I’m going to be *that* person who goes overboard with decorating!  Our favourite house had a decoration on the door that made spooky noises once you knocked. I was a little surprised and was paying too much attention watching A.J. looking at the decoration to hear the house’s occupant walking up to the door… I jumped and yelped when she opened the door (feeling somewhat like a fool since I – a grown woman – was scared, while the toddler standing next to me was unfazed).

12193716_10153919564347203_2069690805794276601_nI came across this article (“Four reasons you should go trick-or-treating tonight”) today, and I really liked its emphasis on taking advantage of Halloween to establish or maintain a healthy sense of community with your neighbours. I read the second reason, “there is no other night when you get to go to your neighbor’s door and introduce yourself without any awkwardness” and it completely resonated with how I felt all evening last night while we were out and about in our community.

Interacting with some of my neighbours also gave me the chance to apologize for our rooster…. More of that to come!

the practice of thankfulness

gratitudeYesterday, I was in a funk.

I’ve been struggling the last couple of days with feelings of unworthiness, been a little stressed out about some projects I’ve been working on, and I think I’ve been struggling with some “last days of summer blues.”

I know full and well the power of going to church, coming before God, and being in fellowship with other Christians during times of stress and being overwhelmed.

And yet… admittedly, I just couldn’t bring myself to “get up and at ’em” for church…

Instead, I worshiped on the trails.

Next week, I’m pulling A.J. in the bike trailer as a fundraiser for Restorations. I’ve been trying to bike more to prepare, and I’ve really been enjoying biking for exercise. I feel so much better – mentally and physically – when I exercise on a regular basis, but I’ve been finding it difficult to find something that fits my budget, interest and time. I bought a used bike trailer off Kijiji and love that I now have an activity that makes me feel like I’m working hard and can do with A.J.  But yesterday, I just took myself and my bike to the nearest trails, and within moments nature and the act of moving my body uplifted me.

I spent some time in worship, and I told myself to thank God for 5 things in my life.

I seriously have so much to be thankful for. The news (Syrian refugees, slavery, natural disasters, recessions, etc.) is a constant reminder of how thankful I should be for what I have.

But can I shamefully admit something?

I had a hard time (at first) coming up with things to be thankful for. Not necessarily because I had trouble coming up with anything, but at first the practice seemed silly to me; I kept coming up with genuine things I was thankful for (family, health), but then I questioned myself: are these just “easy” answers? I felt like the kids during children’s sermons who automatically answer any question asked of them with “God,” “Jesus,” “Bible,” “love.”

So I thought to myself: how can I better practice thankfulness? The 5 things I came up with for which I’m thankful, they weren’t “wrong” answers (although they felt easy). But how can I continue to practice thankfulness so I can find gratitude in anything and everything? Stop comparing my life to others? Find gratitude in the tough or mundane circumstances? Be thankful for the people who really drive me crazy or hurt me?

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Colossians 3:15-17

Finding things to be thankful got easier the farther I rode. I easily surpassed five (things, and kilometers!). Now I just have to keep practicing.

Beloved Boomer

Today we euthanized our beloved cat Boomer (or as A.J. lovingly calls her “Beeno”). What a tough decision, to let go of a pet that has been a family member for almost 6 years. It was especially difficult because Boomer was the first pet Mark and I adopted after we got married – just a little over a month after our wedding. She was already an older cat when we adopted her, and she made our family of husband and wife into a family of 3.    When we first started looking for a cat to adopt after we got married, we looked for a male who we were planning to name Hilo (a name with double meaning for us – it is a place we visited in Hawaii when we were there for our honeymoon. But Helo – spelled differently but sounds the same – is also character from Battlestar Gallactica, one of our favourite sci-fi shows). Instead we came across Boomer – not a kitten but a full grown sweet (but not overly affectionate) cat. She was not named Boomer when we adopted her, but Mark and I decided that we would continue to keep our eyes out for a male cat and name our first family addition “Boomer,” another (complimentary) character from Battlestar. (We did eventually adopt our Hilo a month later.)

Boomer & Hilo our first Christmas. Hilo would very quickly overtake Boomer in size – 3x in fact.

Boomer was always patient - with Hilo, with our dog Jedi, and then with A.J.

Boomer was always patient – with Hilo, with our dog Jedi (who will miss his face baths), and then with A.J.

Boomer was always a constant study companion.

Boomer was always a constant study companion.

Over the last couple of months, her health has been deteriorating. We made the difficult decision to let her go quietly and lovingly before her quality of life diminished too much. A.J. was with us, but fortunately she did not really grasp what was going on (after a long afternoon, she was actually watching Bubble Guppies on my phone as we held Boomer for the last time). Mark asked me after the fact if I had heard A.J. just before the vet injected Boomed (I had not heard her). Apparently she said “Beeno, sleepy.” Upon hearing him tell me this, my already cried-out eyes welled up again.

We returned her body back to a home that she has known for the last 11 months – our backyard where she enjoyed exploring. With tears in my eyes, I dug her grave and here “Beeno” forever sleeps.

Lamp makeover

This past winter, I explained to Mark that I found it extra difficult to work on my thesis with A.J. around and no work surface in our family room. (It was difficult enough to find spare minutes to read or write, but not having a work surface made the challenge greater.) I have a home office, but it is fairly cluttered and there are lots of books which are super interesting – especially to a toddler. So Mark made me this awesome wood table – exactly what I was envisioning for our family room.

This is My Creativity: family room country tableA couple of months ago my mom mentioned that she was throwing out a lamp. It’s fairly dated (no offense, mom! Though you already know this since you bought a new one and were looking to get rid of this one).  I asked if I could take it, guessing that it would be fairly simple to give it a makeover.

This is My Creativity: lamp makeoverFor months I’ve been on the lookout for a lamp shade for the lamp makeover. The shades I saw were too pricey or too big or just too trendy. I wanted something that would make the lamp look more modern (than it’s plain green lampshade on a brass base), but not too contemporary for our century country home.

I finally came across a lampshade that fit my cost/look ratio criteria. At first I wasn’t too sure how I felt about it – would I grow tired of the colours? Was it too pink? But I liked how colourful it was, and A.J. has recently come to love butterflies. I figured even if I eventually grow tired of it in the family room, maybe it will eventually be something that can go in her room once we renovate upstairs.

In the loft of our shop, the old owners left this old melamine tv unit that I am in the process of refinishing as a play kitchen for A.J. In searching for paints suitable for melamine (limited options from what I’ve found…), I came across Krylon Dual Superbond. In experimenting with it a little on the tv unit, I really like it. Ask anyone, Mark and I hate painting. But I have become recently fascinated with the ease of spray painting. There are limited “fun” colours in the Dual Superbond type of Krylon paint, but luckily the “Ivy Leaf” colour was both a fun shade and perfectly matches the tiny green butterflies on the lamp shade. Two quick coats later and…

This is My Creativity: lamp makeover

This is My Creativity: lamp makeover

My camera doesn’t quite capture the true colour of the green

This is My Creativity: lamp makeover

This is My Creativity: lamp makeover

Cost of the lamp makeover: a little over $30 ($19.98 for the lamp shade and $6.94 for the spray paint). Could I have found a cheaper lamp? Yeah, probably. But I love that mine is so colourful and custom. And I saved something from the dump, reducing landfill waste. I really love projects that involve restoring something that would have otherwise been chucked into the garbage.

Plus A.J. had some fun too. While I was cooking dinner last night, I hear behind me “Lamp. Hat.” (Sorry for the blurry pics; I quickly snapped pictures from my phone before the novelty of a lampshade hat worn off).

This is My Creativity: lamp makeoverThis is My Creativity: lamp makeover